Thursday, August 7, 2014

Making sense of Brad DeLong on Pinochet

Comes to our attention the distinguished Berkeley economist, and former Clinton Administration Treasury official, J. Bradford DeLong writing;
WTF with democracy and Pinochet? it is very clear that Hayek was very comfortable saying that he would much rather have an authoritarian classical-liberal government then a democratic government that followed “illiberal” economic policies. But where are these authoritarians respect the rule of law supposed to come from? Why should governments that do not respect the lives of their people–that throw people out of helicopters into the South Pacific–or the liberty of their people–that “disappear” critics who cross the line and are too strident–respect the property of their people? Both theoretical and empirical considerations would tend to teach the lesson respect for the rule of law is a seamless garment: governments committed to respecting free speech and free elections would seem to be much more likely to commit themselves to respecting property than those that did not. Yeah I asked does not see it in the way I would regard as natural. Why not?
Probably because Hayek didn't have a cartoonish idea of what had happened in Chile in the 1970s, as most--if not all--of DeLong's commenters seem to. Samples;

...that lesson would be that brutal totalitarian regimes are very good at advancing the conservative agenda. Democracy, not so much.
....The Chilean Miracle: Neo-classical economics plus machine guns
(Oh, wait, isn't that redundant? Seems like with your really classical neo-classical, in the end the political economy part is pretty much machine guns all the way down.)
....It's all very simple: instead of the oppressive fascist/socialist/totalitarian government slamming its fists of coercion against the total liberty of free markets, for example by collecting income tax to pay for day care, a proper minimal government will let market forces decide which demonstrators to machine gun at once and which to torture first.
....Thatcher could be jollying the guy or she could be genuinely wistful about the issue. I didn't hear her public speeches or haven't read the memoirs of her peers about the inner workings of policy debates. All I have to go on is her characterization as a tight-assed, heartless, gap-toothed vampire. 
They said you was high class.

Not high class enough to acquaint themselves with the facts--and it's been over a decade since DeLong and company were informed of them at Semi-Daily Journal--which are readily available from: Georgie Anne Geyer in Buying the Night Flight, Jorge Edwards' Persona Non Grata: A Memoir of Disenchantment with the Cuban Revolution and James Rolph Edwards' Painful Birth: How Chile Became a Free and Prosperous Society

Or, they could settle down with a good blog for several hours of instruction.

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